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Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews James Strole Regarding RAAD Fest 2019 and Life-Extension Advocacy

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews James Strole Regarding RAAD Fest 2019 and Life-Extension Advocacy

James Strole
Gennady Stolyarov II
Johannon Ben Zion


On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II invited James Strole of the Coalition for Radical Life Extension and People Unlimited to discuss the upcoming RAAD Fest 2019 in Las Vegas on October 3-6, 2019 – the fourth RAAD Fest in history – https://www.raadfest.com/ – and the first in a new venue. Mr. Stolyarov and Mr. Strole discussed the importance of unity in the transhumanist and life-extensionist movements, as well as what opportunities for education and inspiration RAAD Fest will offer to those who wish to live longer and healthier. They also addressed audience questions and were briefly joined by Johannon Ben Zion, Chairman of the Arizona Transhumanist Party. Watch the interview on YouTube here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply here in less than a minute.

Watch some of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s prior appearances at RAAD Fests in 2017 and 2018 below.

RAAD Fest 2017

The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Peaceful Political Revolution for Longevity – August 11, 2017

RAAD Fest 2018

The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future – Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018

Andrés Grases Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era – September 23, 2018

Register for RAAD Fest 2019 here

Highlights #1 – First Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – July 6, 2019

Highlights #1 – First Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – July 6, 2019

Rachel Haywire
Johannon Ben Zion
Charles Holsopple
Moderated by Gennady Stolyarov II


Watch highlights from the first virtual debate among U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) candidates for President of the United States, which took place on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at 3 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time.

Candidates Rachel Haywire, Johannon Ben Zion, and Charles Holsopple provided their introductory statements and discussed how their platforms reflect the Core Ideals of the USTP.

This highlights reel was created by Tom Ross, the USTP Director of Media Production. Watch the full 3-hour debate here.

Learn about the USTP candidates here.

View individual candidate profiles:

Johannon Ben Zion
Rachel Haywire
Charles Holsopple

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply in less than a minute here.

Those who join the USTP by August 10, 2019, will be eligible to vote in the Electronic Primary on August 11-17, 2019.

First Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – July 6, 2019

First Virtual Debate Among U.S. Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidates – July 6, 2019

Rachel Haywire
Johannon Ben Zion
Charles Holsopple
Moderated by Gennady Stolyarov II


The first virtual debate among U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party candidates for President of the United States took place on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at 3 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time. Watch the debate on YouTube here.

Candidates Rachel Haywire, Johannon Ben Zion, and Charles Holsopple discussed how their platforms reflect the Core Ideals of the USTP and also answered selected questions from the public.

Learn about the USTP candidates here.

View individual candidate profiles:

Johannon Ben Zion
Rachel Haywire
Charles Holsopple

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply in less than a minute here.

Those who join the USTP by August 10, 2019, will be eligible to vote in the Electronic Primary on August 11-17, 2019.

Gennady Stolyarov II Speaks with Steele Archer of Debt Nation on Transhumanism and Emerging Technologies

Gennady Stolyarov II Speaks with Steele Archer of Debt Nation on Transhumanism and Emerging Technologies

Gennady Stolyarov II
Steele Archer


Watch this wide-ranging discussion between U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II and Steele Archer of the Debt Nation show, addressing a broad array of emerging technologies, the aspirations of transhumanism, and aspects of both broader and more personal economic matters – from the impact of technology on the labor market to how Mr. Stolyarov paid off his mortgage in 6.5 years. This conversation delved into Austrian economics, techno-optimism, cultural obstacles to progress, the work and ideals of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, life extension and the “Death is Wrong” children’s book, science fiction, and space colonization – among many other topics.
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Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party for free here.
U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Meeting and Q&A – February 23, 2019

U.S. Transhumanist Party Virtual Meeting and Q&A – February 23, 2019

Gennady Stolyarov II
Denisa Rensen
Palak Madan
Pam Keefe
Dinorah Delfin
Arin Vahanian
Tom Ross
B.J. Murphy


On February 23, 2019, the U.S. Transhumanist Party invited many of its Officers and Ambassadors to discuss recent activities and plans for 2019, including the upcoming Presidential nomination process. The meeting included a public chat and portions where inquiries from members and the general public were addressed. Find the video recording of the meeting and the accompanying YouTube Live chat here.

Agenda
– Gennady Stolyarov II: Overview of 2019 Transhumanist Presidential Nomination/Debate/Primary Process
– Ambassadors – Denisa Rensen, Palak Madan, Pam Keefe: Discussions on Transhumanist Sentiment / Attitudinal Environment in Japan, India, and Hong Kong
– Denisa Rensen: Report on TransVision 2018 in Madrid
– Gennady Stolyarov II: Integration with the Transhuman Party / Dissolution of the TNC
– Dinorah Delfin: Discussion of Forthcoming Article in The Transhumanism Handbook: “An Artist’s Creative Process: A Model of Conscious Evolution”
– Arin Vahanian: Report on Premiere of “Immortality or Bust” Documentary
– Group Discussion: How to Reach 10,000 Members? (What demographics have yet to be exposed to transhumanist ideas and the existence of the USTP? How can we be more effective in getting people “in the door” to even be aware of our existence and content?)
   Potential Ideas
– Social-Media Digital Poster Contest (Suggestion by Tom Ross)
– Incentives for Members to Recruit Other Members (Suggestion by Tom Ross)
– Appeal to Subcultures – e.g., Steampunk, Cyborg Communities (Suggestion by Tom Ross)
– Question for Discussion: Should we engage with conspiracy theorists (e.g., attempt to rebut them) or distance ourselves from them as much as possible?
– Any questions from the audience

Note: The meeting livestream terminated slightly prematurely due to an Internet disconnection. However, the meeting did proceed over the course of the planned two-hour timeframe, and the vast majority of the intended subjects were covered.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Fill out the application form here.

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed on “Lev and Jules Break the Rules” – Sowing Discourse, Episode #001

Gennady Stolyarov II Interviewed on “Lev and Jules Break the Rules” – Sowing Discourse, Episode #001

Gennady Stolyarov II
Jules Hamilton
Lev Polyakov


U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II was recently honored to be the first guest ever interviewed on the video channel Lev and Jules Break the Rules with Lev Polyakov and Jules Hamilton. Lev and Jules have produced this skillfully edited video of the conversation, with content references from the conversation inserted directly into the footage. For those who wish to explore broad questions related to technology, transhumanism, culture, economics, politics, philosophy, art, and even connections to popular films and computer games, this is the discussion to watch.

This video was originally posted here. It is mirrored on Mr. Stolyarov’s YouTube channel here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form here. It takes less than a minute!

It is republished with permission.

More information about Lev and Jules Break the Rules:
Patreon
Minds
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – October 21, 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Q&A Session – October 21, 2017

G. Stolyarov II
Martin van der Kroon
Sean Singh
B.J. Murphy


In this interactive question-and-answer session, which occurred at 1 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time on Saturday, October 21, 2017, U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers provided an updated view of the Transhumanist Party’s projects, operations, and achievements, in response to audience questions. Because October is Longevity Month, this Q&A session had a life-extension theme but also delved into various other areas, including how to address conspiracy theories and various approaches toward diet, nutrition, and cultural norms regarding food consumption. The Q&A session has been archived on YouTube here.

The following U.S. Transhumanist Party Officers took part in this Q&A session:

– Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman
– Martin van der Kroon, Director of Recruitment
– Sean Singh, Director of Applied Innovation
– B.J. Murphy, Director of Social Media

The YouTube question/comment chat for this Q&A session has been archived here and is also provided below.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party website here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party Facebook page here.

See the U.S. Transhumanist Party FAQ here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

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How Networks Topple Scientific Dogmas – Article by Max Borders

How Networks Topple Scientific Dogmas – Article by Max Borders

The New Renaissance HatMax Borders
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The Peer-to-Peer Republic of Science

Science is undergoing a wrenching evolutionary change.

In fact, most of what we consider to be carried out in the name of science is dubious at best, flat wrong at worst. It appears we’re putting too much faith in science — particularly the kind of science that relies on reproducibility.

In a University of Virginia meta-study, half of 100 psychology study results could not be reproduced.

Experts making social science prognostications turned out to be mostly wrong, according to political science writer Philip Tetlock’s decades-long review of expert forecasts.

But there is perhaps no more egregious example of bad expert advice than in the area of health and nutrition. As I wrote last year for Voice & Exit:

For most of our lives, we’ve been taught some variation on the food pyramid. The advice? Eat mostly breads and cereals, then fruits and vegetables, and very little fat and protein. Do so and you’ll be thinner and healthier. Animal fat and butter were considered unhealthy. Certain carbohydrate-rich foods were good for you as long as they were whole grain. Most of us anchored our understanding about food to that idea.

“Measures used to lower the plasma lipids in patients with hyperlipidemia will lead to reductions in new events of coronary heart disease,” said the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1971. (“How Networks Bring Down Experts (The Paleo Example),” March 12, 2015)

The so-called “lipid theory” had the support of the US surgeon general. Doctors everywhere fell in line behind the advice. Saturated fats like butter and bacon became public enemy number one. People flocked to the supermarket to buy up “heart healthy” margarines. And yet, Americans were getting fatter.

But early in the 21st century something interesting happened: people began to go against the grain (no pun) and they started talking about their small experiments eating saturated fat. By 2010, the lipid hypothesis — not to mention the USDA food pyramid — was dead. Forty years of nutrition orthodoxy had been upended. Now the experts are joining the chorus from the rear.

The Problem Goes Deeper

But the problem doesn’t just affect the soft sciences, according to science writer Ron Bailey:

The Stanford statistician John Ioannidis sounded the alarm about our science crisis 10 years ago. “Most published research findings are false,” Ioannidis boldly declared in a seminal 2005 PLOS Medicine article. What’s worse, he found that in most fields of research, including biomedicine, genetics, and epidemiology, the research community has been terrible at weeding out the shoddy work largely due to perfunctory peer review and a paucity of attempts at experimental replication.

Richard Horton of the Lancet writes, “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” And according Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman, writing in Vox,

Another review found that researchers at Amgen were unable to reproduce 89 percent of landmark cancer research findings for potential drug targets. (The problem even inspired a satirical publication called the Journal of Irreproducible Results.)

Contrast the progress of science in these areas with that of applied sciences such as computer science and engineering, where more market feedback mechanisms are in place. It’s the difference between Moore’s Law and Murphy’s Law.

So what’s happening?

Science’s Evolution

Three major catalysts are responsible for the current upheaval in the sciences. First, a few intrepid experts have started looking around to see whether studies in their respective fields are holding up. Second, competition among scientists to grab headlines is becoming more intense. Third, informal networks of checkers — “amateurs” — have started questioning expert opinion and talking to each other. And the real action is in this third catalyst, creating as it does a kind of evolutionary fitness landscape for scientific claims.

In other words, for the first time, the cost of checking science is going down as the price of being wrong is going up.

Now, let’s be clear. Experts don’t like having their expertise checked and rechecked, because their dogmas get called into question. When dogmas are challenged, fame, funding, and cushy jobs are at stake. Most will fight tooth and nail to stay on the gravy train, which can translate into coming under the sway of certain biases. It could mean they’re more likely to cherry-pick their data, exaggerate their results, or ignore counterexamples. Far more rarely, it can mean they’re motivated to engage in outright fraud.

Method and Madness

Not all of the fault for scientific error lies with scientists, per se. Some of it lies with methodologies and assumptions most of us have taken for granted for years. Social and research scientists have far too much faith in data aggregation, a process that can drop the important circumstances of time and place. Many researchers make inappropriate inferences and predictions based on a narrow band of observed data points that are plucked from wider phenomena in a complex system. And, of course, scientists are notoriously good at getting statistics to paint a picture that looks like their pet theories.

Some sciences even have their own holy scriptures, like psychology’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. These guidelines, when married with government funding, lobbyist influence, or insurance payouts, can protect incomes but corrupt practice.

But perhaps the most significant methodological problem with science is overreliance on the peer-review process. Peer review can perpetuate groupthink, the cartelization of knowledge, and the compounding of biases.

The Problem with Expert Opinion

The problem with expert opinion is that it is often cloistered and restrictive. When science starts to seem like a walled system built around a small group of elites (many of whom are only sharing ideas with each other) — hubris can take hold. No amount of training or smarts can keep up with an expansive network of people who have a bigger stake in finding the truth than in shoring up the walls of a guild or cartel.

It’s true that to some degree, we have to rely on experts and scientists. It’s a perfectly natural part of specialization and division of labor that some people will know more about some things than you, and that you are likely to need their help at some point. (I try to stay away from accounting, and I am probably not very good at brain surgery, either.) But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t question authority, even when the authority knows more about their field than we do.

The Power of Networks

But when you get an army of networked people — sometimes amateurs — thinking, talking, tinkering, and toying with ideas — you can hasten a proverbial paradigm shift. And this is exactly what we are seeing.

It’s becoming harder for experts to count on the vagaries and denseness of their disciplines to keep their power. But it’s in cross-disciplinary pollination of the network that so many different good ideas can sprout and be tested.

The best thing that can happen to science is that it opens itself up to everyone, even people who are not credentialed experts. Then, let the checkers start to talk to each other. Leaders, influencers, and force-multipliers will emerge. You might think of them as communications hubs or bigger nodes in a network. Some will be cranks and hacks. But the best will emerge, and the cranks will be worked out of the system in time.

The network might include a million amateurs willing to give a pair of eyes or a different perspective. Most in this army of experimenters get results and share their experiences with others in the network. What follows is a wisdom-of-crowds phenomenon. Millions of people not only share results, but challenge the orthodoxy.

How Networks Contribute to the Republic of Science

In his legendary 1962 essay, “The Republic of Science,” scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi wrote the following passage. It beautifully illustrates the problems of science and of society, and it explains how they will be solved in the peer-to-peer age:

Imagine that we are given the pieces of a very large jigsaw puzzle, and suppose that for some reason it is important that our giant puzzle be put together in the shortest possible time. We would naturally try to speed this up by engaging a number of helpers; the question is in what manner these could be best employed.

Polanyi says you could progress through multiple parallel-but-individual processes. But the way to cooperate more effectively

is to let them work on putting the puzzle together in sight of the others so that every time a piece of it is fitted in by one helper, all the others will immediately watch out for the next step that becomes possible in consequence. Under this system, each helper will act on his own initiative, by responding to the latest achievements of the others, and the completion of their joint task will be greatly accelerated. We have here in a nutshell the way in which a series of independent initiatives are organized to a joint achievement by mutually adjusting themselves at every successive stage to the situation created by all the others who are acting likewise.

Just imagine if Polanyi had lived to see the Internet.

This is the Republic of Science. This is how smart people with different interests and skill sets can help put together life’s great puzzles.

In the Republic of Science, there is certainly room for experts. But they are hubs among nodes. And in this network, leadership is earned not by sitting atop an institutional hierarchy with the plumage of a postdoc, but by contributing, experimenting, communicating, and learning with the rest of a larger hive mind. This is science in the peer-to-peer age.

Max Borders is Director of Idea Accounts and Creative Development for Emergent Order. He was previously the editor of the Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Enlightened Selfies – Narcissism and Human Rights – Article by B.K. Marcus

Enlightened Selfies – Narcissism and Human Rights – Article by B.K. Marcus

The New Renaissance Hat
B.K. Marcus
******************************

When the press refers to “Generation Selfie,” do we sense a sneer? It’s almost as if the term selfie is shorthand not for self-portrait but for self-involved, self-absorbed, or simply selfish.

Selfies are widespread among millennials, many of whom grew up with camera phones. A poll commissioned by electronics maker Samsung reveals that fully 30 percent of all photos taken by 18- to 24-year-olds are selfies. For many of us, the selfie is just the new normal, whether or not we fill our own smartphones with self-regarding snapshots. But, as Pamela Rutledge writes for Psychology Today, some see the selfie generation “as proof of cultural — or at least generational — narcissism and moral decline.” And calling Generation Selfie a bunch of narcissists may not be rhetorical excess: according to a paper in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, selfie-posting behavior is indeed associated with narcissistic personality disorder.

Does this mean that modern society is growing more self-obsessed?

Belief in the “moral decay” epitomized by self-directed amateur photography results from a more general conviction that the virtues of community and altruism are being driven out by our culture’s overemphasis on the individual. Whether the culprit is capitalism, technology, or Western civilization more generally, the idea is that historically recent developments are fracturing our communal bonds and leading to a loss of empathy, compassion, and duty — replacing concern for the well-being of a larger group with a privileging of the atomized individual.

Inventing the Modern Self

But the development is not, in fact, historically recent. The selfie as we now know it may seem like a result of social media and the camera phone, but our society’s apparent obsession with visual self-presentation is much older — and significantly more beneficial — than the critics understand.

“It’s easy to make fun of our penchant for taking selfies,” writes popular science author Steven Johnson in How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, “but in fact there is a long and storied tradition behind that form of self-expression.”

The original selfie generation emerged in Renaissance Italy, the product of a different technological innovation. Centuries before the bidirectional camera phone, there was the culturally disruptive technology of the glass mirror.

“The interesting thing about self-portraiture,” Johnson tells us, “is that it effectively doesn’t exist as an artistic convention in Europe before 1400.” That’s because, for most of human history, we got very few chances to see ourselves as others see us. The best we could do was a rippled reflection glimpsed in water or a tarnished image on a metal pot.

That all changed when glassmakers “figured out a way to combine their crystal-clear glass with a new innovation in metallurgy, coating the back of the glass with an amalgam of tin and mercury to create a shiny and highly reflective surface. For the first time, mirrors became part of the fabric of everyday life.”

One result was the invention of linear perspective in painting. Prior to the Renaissance, visual representation was more symbolic, less what we would now call realistic. Renaissance artists used the new technology of the mirror to compare what they put on the canvas with what they saw framed in the glass. Sometimes, of course, what they saw in the looking glass was their own reflection.

“The mirror helped invent the modern self,” Johnson writes, “in some real but unquantifiable way.”

Soon after, “social conventions as well as property rights and other legal customs began to revolve around the individual rather than the older, more collective units: the family, the tribe, the city, the kingdom.” Furthermore, “orienting laws around individuals led directly to an entire tradition of human rights and the prominence of individual liberty in legal codes.”

Inventing Humanity

In a different investigation of the individualist tradition, historian Lynn Hunt observes in her book Inventing Human Rights, “For rights to be human rights, all humans everywhere in the world must possess them equally and only because of their status as human beings.”

There was no such understanding of humanity for most of history. Love, compassion, and sympathy may have existed from the beginning, but only between people in narrowly defined groups. The treatment for outsiders was far more harsh.

Slavery and torture, today considered egregious violations of human rights, went unquestioned before a few hundred years ago. Since at least the time of Aristotle, it was typical to divide the world between “us,” the naturally civilized, and “them,” the naturally enslaved. Torture, in the ancient world, was originally limited to slaves, but over time, the practice became more acceptable, and in the second century it was expanded to include nominally free lower-class victims. By the Middle Ages, torture before execution had become a form of spectacle, public entertainment for the whole family.

How, then, did we develop a sense of universal humanity and of natural rights for all human beings? Specifically, Hunt asks about the Enlightenment thinkers in 18th-century France and America, for whom such rights were “self-evident.”

How did these men, living in societies built on slavery, subordination, and seemingly natural subservience, ever come to imagine men not at all like them and, in some cases, women too, as equals?

And how did the 18th-century public come to agree with them? The answer Hunt offers is that the so-called self-evidence of individual human rights was largely the result of widespread reading in a genre that was still relatively new at the time: the epistolary novel. Enlightenment thinkers were familiar with first-person narrative in a way that earlier generations would have found alien. Novels introduced readers to the inner lives of characters unlike themselves.

Johnson, too, talks about the emergence of the novel and its impact on the moral imagination, but he traces the origins of the modern novel itself to the same innovation that gave rise to linear perspective in painting: “The psychological novel … is the kind of story you start wanting to hear once you begin spending meaningful hours of your life staring at yourself in the mirror.”

Thinking about themselves as the individuals staring back through the glass, “people began writing about their interior lives with far more scrutiny,” and “the novel emerged as a dominant form of storytelling, probing the inner mental lives of its characters with an unrivaled depth.”

The Innovation of Empathy

What does this sort of growing self-obsession have to do with the rights of others?

Empathy, Hunt points out, “requires a leap of faith, of imagining that someone else is like you.” This is the idea that “novels generated … by inducing new sensations about the inner self.”

Or as Johnson puts it,

Entering a novel, particularly a first-person narrative, was a kind of conceptual parlor trick: it let you swim through the consciousness, the thoughts and emotions, of other people more effectively than any aesthetic form yet invented.

Spending time in someone else’s head, even if that someone else is fictional, is practice for thinking about real people’s experiences.

So, according to this story, the technology of glass mirrors leads to linear perspective, the Renaissance, and a new literary form called the novel. The novel, in turn, transforms the popular imagination in such a way that even strangers — those outside your immediate family, class, and religious affiliation — come to be understood as autonomous individuals with their own inner lives, much like your own. And for the first time in history, people come to question the practices of torture and slavery, practices at least as old as civilization and far more universal than any understanding of rights prior to the Enlightenment.

The “invention” of the individual ushered in not ever more selfishness and less regard for the group, but an expanding empathy and a more inclusive, approaching universal, sense of “us” — a waning relegation of those outside our moral community.

Trading with the Other

Johnson notes that the technological innovation at the beginning of the story isn’t enough by itself to have produced the larger cultural shift:

The Renaissance also benefited from a patronage system that enabled its artists and scientists to spend their days playing with mirrors instead of, say, foraging for nuts and berries. A Renaissance without the Medici — not the individual family, of course, but the economic class they represent — is as hard to imagine as the Renaissance without the mirror.

The same can be said about the economy that produced the Enlightenment: it is hard to imagine an era of growing empathy, open-mindedness, and belief in universal rights without the market that provided a growing readership for the epistolary novel.

Capitalism establishes the conditions in which individualism can thrive. Individualism, in turn, helps the market economy to grow and to propagate the belief in rights-bearing individuals.

Contrary to today’s critics, then, who assume that the individualist mentality leads to the absence of empathy, with the advent of individualism came the invention of empathy, at least as applied to those outside the tribe, clan, or caste.

Maybe narcissists do feel compelled to photograph themselves. Camera phones make it easier than ever. But the myth of Narcissus is ancient. And the history of reflective technology points us to a different understanding of cause and effect for the selfie generation.

The 21st-century self-portrait can play the same role now as its earlier incarnations did during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Like individualism more generally, the selfie invites us to explore questions of identity and of where we fit in an ever more interconnected community.

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman. His website is bkmarcus.com.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Fearless, Provocative, and Inescapably Thought-Provoking: Review of Kyrel Zantonavitch’s “Pure Liberal Fire” – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Fearless, Provocative, and Inescapably Thought-Provoking: Review of Kyrel Zantonavitch’s “Pure Liberal Fire” – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 16, 2014
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Pure Liberal Fire by Kyrel Zantonavitch is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
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There is perhaps not a single thinker in the world more fearless than Kyrel Zantonavitch. Pure Liberal Fire is the direct, provocative distillation of his thoughts on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, economics, culture, religion, and the history of philosophy – including Objectivism and Classical Liberalism. Zantonavitch seeks to evoke a pure, true liberalism, and he shows no mercy for ideologies and attitudes that constitute its antithesis. He certainly leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind about where he stands on the issues addressed – and each article within the book employs an abundance of superlative expressions – be they positive or negative. When Zantonavitch praises, he really praises – and the same goes for when he condemns.
***

I give this book a rating of five stars because it invariably makes people think – no matter who they are or what their starting persuasions and assumptions might be. There are many areas in which I strongly agree with Zantonavitch – and quite a few where I strongly disagree as well. He articulates many valid points about the fundamentals of philosophy, the importance of liberty in political theory, atheism, the damage perpetrated by various political movements and policies, and the unfortunate tendencies among historical and current Objectivists toward dogmatism and conformism instead of independent thought and the honest pursuit of truth. Some of our areas of disagreement include war, areas of foreign policy, and, perhaps more generally, the desired mechanisms for achieving societal change.

Zantonavitch’s approach and style would entail achieving a fiery, dramatic, immediate deposition of everything (every person, every policy, every idea) he considers evil, dangerous, or damaging. My view of reform is more surgical, focused on getting the sequence of steps right so as to minimize the damage inflicted during the transition while ridding the world of the disease of bad policies (and, in a more long-term fashion, through persuasion and free-market education, also ridding it of bad thinking of the sort that motivates bad policies).

Zantonavitch combines his no-holds-barred treatment of his subject matters with a unique dialectical technique. There are several places in a book where he characterizes a particular set of ideas (or people) in a strongly negative way – but then later (or earlier) also portrays them as either highly praiseworthy, or at the very least understandable and characterized by redeeming attributes. Two examples that come to mind are (1) his discussions of Objectivism as a brainwashing cult in some places and as the most advanced, best-developed philosophy to date in others, and (2) his characterizations in some places of religious believers as not particularly bad as long as they do not take their belief too seriously – and in other places of anyone who believes in a god or teaches his/her children such beliefs as being guilty of evil and/or abuse. The reader can glimpse in this a deliberate juxtaposition of these opposing characterizations in a dialectical fashion – in an attempt to examine both the positive and the negative aspects of the ideas and behaviors Zantonavitch is writing about. (With regard to Objectivism, there is definitely merit in pointing out both the great strengths and the failures, as I have myself done, for instance.) This also creates a second layer of meaning in Zantonavitch’s work, as his uses of positive and negative superlatives with regard to the same subject are seldom immediately close to one another. While the rest of his writing endeavors to be extremely direct (indeed, provocative) with regard to its meaning, he seems to expect his readers to make their own connections in this respect without him deliberately pointing them out. As a result, with regard to Objectivism especially, Zantonavitch’s readers have the opportunity to acquire a more balanced, nuanced view after having been exposed to both his glorious praise and his scathing condemnation of the philosophy.